Head coach Leslie Frazier confirmed the Minnesota Vikings will take a cautious approach with Adrian Peterson's return to the football field, saving his game action for the regular season.
Peterson, the Vikings' star running back who tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee Dec. 24 and had surgery to repair them Dec. 30, will sit out the team's final two preseason games, despite practicing for more than a week now.
"It's just a part of the progression. There are no setbacks. That's not the reason we're doing it," Frazier said Tuesday. "We just feel like more time with him in practice for some of the things we're doing and the progression for the season, it's the right thing to do. That doesn't guarantee that he'll be ready for Jacksonville, but what it does is it gives us more time to throw things in front of him in practice and get him prepared. Hopefully there won't be any setbacks."
Peterson said Monday that he'd be "ready to roll" whenever the coaching and medical staffs allow him to play his first game, but after talking it over with Frazier and others, the decision was made to sit him for the rest of the preseason.
Frazier said the ultra-competitive Peterson is finally starting to understand the importance of a methodical approach to his recovery.
"We talked to him about it. For the first time in our conversations, he kind of seems as if he understood," Frazier said. "He even used the word ‘patience.' I was like, ‘Wow, finally, it's clicking.' He's on board. Everybody is on board that it's the right thing to do."
While Frazier said there haven't been any setbacks in Peterson's recovery, he also cautioned that there was no guarantee Peterson would play in the regular-season opener, even if that is still the hope right now.
Peterson started practicing on a limited basis nine days ago at the Vikings' training camp in Mankato, Minn., then was allowed to participate in all the drills last Tuesday. However, head coach Leslie Frazier instructed the defense not to touch Peterson.
Eventually, that proclamation will be lifted sometime before the regular-season opener against Jacksonville.
"There's going to be a point where we'll want to bang him up a little bit. I don't know if we'll take him to the ground, but we definitely have talked about just letting him feel a little shock to see how he responds to taking a hit," Frazier said.
"How he responds when some of the guys put a pad on him – how does he handle that? And then when bodies fall down in front of him, how does he handle that? Does he stop and plant like the Adrian of the old or does he just come to a standstill where he's liable to take a real serious hit. There are some things we want to see and we'll put him through his paces over the next few days and see how he responds."
His workload has already started to increase. Last week, he started with only two carries in his first full-pads practice. By Monday, that had increased to 18 carries.
Peterson said Monday there was no soreness in his return to practice last week after spending the first two weeks of training camp in Mankato toiling through intense cardio and strength workouts on a side field under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
"The first couple days I worked out, if you seen me on the side I was working out harder than that, than getting in there taking 12 snaps (in his second practice)," Peterson said. "There's no soreness."
"(The knee) felt good. I feel like I'm getting better, getting out here and actually getting some work done. I'm improving every day."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings: Peterson won't play in the preseason
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